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Middle East is the Fastest-Growing Real-Time Payments Market Worldwide; Finds ACI Worldwide

New use cases for consumers and businesses drove global real-time payment volumes to record highs, with 195.0 billion transactions recorded globally in 2022. Real-time payments software provider ACI Worldwide also revealed year-on-year growth of 63.2 per cent for the subsector. Meanwhile, the UAE recorded 37.2 million real-time transactions in 2022, placing it among the top six countries in the Middle East. But how can the UAE drive adoption and take the lead regarding real-time payments? 

ACI Worldwide also revealed that consumers completed 37.2 million real-time transactions in the UAE in 2022 – potentially reaching around 146 million transactions by 2027. These figures represent a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31.5 per cent. The real-time payments software provider published its latest ‘2023 Prime Time for Real-Time‘ report, in partnership with data and analytics company, GlobalData.

Real-time payments accounted for only 1.1 per cent of total paperless transactions in 2022. However, ACI predicts this will rise to 12 per cent of electronic payments by 2027. Since last year, ACI Worldwide has been working closely with market participants to build the domestic real-time payments scheme.

There are currently plans for a phased rollout of a national Instant Payment Platform (IPP) for later this year. IPP would enable 24/7 processing of payments and fund transfers in the UAE; and in real-time. The scheme, requiring the participation of all financial institutions in the country, could offer core payments based on the new instant payment rails and overlay services such as ‘Request to Pay’.

‘A domestic IPP will be a game changer for the UAE’
Santhosh Rao, ACI Worldwide Middle East
Santhosh Rao, senior vice president of MEASA at ACI Worldwide

Santhosh Rao, senior vice president of MEASA at ACI Worldwide, discussed the potential impact of IPP on the real-time payments space:

“The launch of a domestic IPP will be a game changer for the UAE as it will accelerate the adoption of real-time payments, which is central to the country’s ambition of creating a modern and digital economy.

“Real-time payments bring many benefits — they help ensure the competitiveness of banks and financial service providers, they eliminate friction in payment transactions and ultimately they increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. The UAE now has a great opportunity to drive economic growth and financial inclusion through real-time payments.

“ACI has worked across the world supporting governments and banks as they roll out real-time payments.  We are delighted to be a leading provider in the Middle East to help countries in the region reap the benefits of real-time payments.”

High potential in the Middle East

As governments and regulators in the Middle East set new mandates for adoption, the region is the fastest-growing real-time payments market in the world. ACI Worldwide predictions see real-time transactions in the Middle East growing from $675million in 2022 to $2.6billion by 2027 – a CAGR of 30.6 per cent.

Several countries, including the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, have plans for launching domestic real-time schemes soon, with innovative features and overlay services high on the agenda.

Bahrain is currently expected to have the highest level of real-time payments consumer adoption by 2027 globally, with every citizen projected to make 83.3 real-time transactions per month. Bahrain is the only Middle Eastern country in the Top 10 league table for consumer adoption of real-time payments, measured as transactions per head of population per month.

The Middle East is among the company’s leading regional markets – ACI Worldwide is currently supporting three countries in the region to build domestic real-time payment infrastructures. This adds to ACI’s long history of success in Asia, where ACI powers the central infrastructures for Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and supports many real-time payment schemes across the APAC region, including Singapore, the Philippines and Australia.


  • Tom joined The Fintech Times in 2022 as part of the operations team; later joining the editorial team as a journalist.

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